Sunday, March 20, 2011

The reinterpretation of Grand Justices No. 684

As a university student, have you ever wondered why you will be collected a fine of 5 dollars per book per day for failing to return the book you check out from the library on the due date? Well, the librarian would probably tell you that it is stipulated in the library policy, so you must pay it. Here comes the question: Based on what legal ground does the school library have the right to collect the five-dollar fine? This is one of the doubts set forward by a representative of students attending a meeting at National Taiwan University. The purpose of that meeting was to make a comprehensive review of the present school regulations to avoid possible litigations after a recent reinterpretation of the constitution made by the Council of Grand Justices. The reinterpretation No. 684 (大法官釋字第684號解釋) has granted university students rights to sue the school, its administrative staff, or teachers if they consider their rights infringed.

Soon after No. 684 reinterpretation was publicized, many feared that it would create disturbance on campus and tensions between students and teachers. I am among the few who have regarded it as a chance for the school authorities to revise the untimely, unequal, and unfair regulations and make our campuses more harmonious for teaching and learning.

Having been a homeroom teacher for years, I sometimes feel really powerless to help my students when their legitimate requests are turned down by school administrators simply for being "against regulations." I can't blame the school staff because they are acting by the book. The problem is that few ever question how those rules were made or was it constitutional when they were made.

In my opinion, I don't think that school authorities should worry too much over the possible lawsuits granted by this reinterpretation by our grand justices. The school is a place to educate our citizens and it is also a place where the spirit of democracy is indoctrinated. All the more it should do things taking into account everyone's constitutional rights.

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